Why is gambling regulated by the law?

I’m watching The Sopranos and there is a secret, hidden casino somewhere in New Jersey. The implication being that gambling outside of official casinos is illegal. But why is this? What does the government have to gain from restricting gambling? It truly is a victimless crime. Even more so than marijuana. And you can buy a lottery ticket anywhere, and that has way lower odds than winning at gambling, but it’s legal everywhere. Why is there this restriction on casinos?

  1. It enables the tax collectors to make sure they are getting their cut.
  2. It enables the government to inspect slot machines and roulette wheels to make sure that they are honest.

Theoretically, anyway.

Also, there is a belief in some circles that gambling addicts will drain their families’ life savings if the government doesn’t protect them.

  1. Gambling is generally considered “A Bad Thing.” Thus, up until relatively recently, it wasn’t allowed anywhere but in Nevada and Bingo halls.

  2. Gambling has long been associated with organized crime, even in places where it is legal. This is part of why it is considered “A Bad Thing.”

  3. It is anything but a victimless crime. There are many people who simply cannot keep themselves from gambling when they shouldn’t, much as there are those who drink when they shouldn’t, or smoke when they shouldn’t, etc. The state has an interest in being in charge of the conditions under which gambling will be allowed.

I think the posts that intimate that the “government” is protecting problem gamblers are very cute. There is a way for the government to stop problem gamblers losing their money - make gambling illegal. Collecting taxes from the losses of compulsive gamblers assists them how exactly? Do they keep track of each individuals losses and come around to tell them to stop gambling, arrange therapy and restrict access to their bank accounts? Or do they just keep taking their cut?

Making gambling illegal would not stop gambling, any more than making alcohol illegal stopped the production and consumption of alcohol. Hell, it’s the position of the Justice Department that online poker is illegal; doesn’t stop millions of Americans from playing.

The same reason prostitution and marijuana is illegal and why alcohol was illegal for a while. The government believed it was immoral therefore it must be made illegal.

Regulating it DOES allow the government to stop addicts. They can put themselves on a list that bars themselves from casinos, for one thing.

First off, all these references to “the government” should be changed (at least in the U.S.) to “elected representatives.” It isn’t as if some secret cabal of non-elected bureaucrats woke up one day and decided to ban gambling. After all, the widely unpopular 18th Amendment (Prohibition) was ratified by 36 state legislatures in the space of just 25 months.

Don’t ask I don’t know what it is in your state, but in Missouri the state gambling laws include a $500 loss limit (per visit). So yes, in effect, they do keep track of your individual losses and make you stop gambling.